A Johannesburg school has come under fire for allegedly checking the underwear of female pupils for sexual activity, according to reports.
The Gauteng education department has confirmed that the management of Jordao College, in Towerby, has written a letter of apology to parents of girls at the school after allegations of sexual harassment emerged.
Phumla Sekhonyane, spokesperson for the department, said: "The member of the executive council for education (MEC), Mr Panyaza Lesufi, has instructed the school management of Jordao College to write a letter of apology to parents of grade 10 to 12 girl learners at the school."
"It is alleged that female learners at the school were checked by teachers for sexual activity after a cleaner found a bloodied condom in the girls' toilet," she added.
Ms Sekhonyane said the school had agreed to apologise to both the pupils and their families, adding that it was "very important to respect the dignity of our learners".
"This is not the way to treat girl children, we will protect their rights," Mr Lesufi added. "I had an urgent meeting with the principal and the management of the school this morning and we all agreed that what happened was unfortunate and therefore they need to apologise to all South Africans but, in particular, to parents at the school."
According to the Independent Online, Lesufi has instructed that all information concerning the case should be handed over to South Africa's Human Rights Commission.
"They are better positioned to investigate matters of this nature, so when they give us a report of their findings, then I will take action."
The school has organised a team of councillors to provide services to the children affected.
"If there are parents that feel their children need additional support we will take care of them," Mr Lesufi said. "I really believe that what happened here is unacceptable and the dignity of our learners cannot be undermined."
Mr Lesufi, formerly the spokesperson for the basic education minister Angie Motshekga, recently took the post of education MEC for Gauteng after his predecessor Barbara Creecy was appointed to finance MEC.